Spam, Scrapple, and Stocks

“We’re having SPAM tonight!” my mother would announce, as if it were a rare treat.

Spam_can By Qwertyxp2000 [CC BY-SA 4.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Mom was a genius at making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear at the end of the month. Her children never knew our family lived from paycheck to paycheck, or that the paychecks were often late. When they were late, she’d announce with enthusiasm, “Tonight, we’re having Scrapple!”

640px-Plate_of_scrapple

Spam and Scrapple were part of our vocabulary. Stocks? Only from the news. Mom’s shopping at the Acme in working class Broomall created little family interest in the stock market. Wall Street and stock portfolios were for people a few miles away in Bryn Mawr, Merion, and Wynnwood on Philadelphia’s Main Line.

My brothers and I had no idea what Spam and Scrapple were. We knew Mom bought them at the Acme. They came in cans. They smelled delicious while frying, and we devoured them as though they were filet mignons. It was many years later we learned that scrapple is made from hog offal, i.e., what remains of a pig after the ham and bacon are removed, and the makings of Spam are only a little better.

We knew even less about the stock market than about the Spam and Scrapple Mom served up in a pinch. People with stocks didn’t pinch pennies at the Acme or buy their children’s back-to-school clothes at the Bryn Mawr Hospital Thrift Shop. We didn’t feel bad about having no stocks; we just knew stocks weren’t meant for us. The closest we got to the stock market was driving through wealthier Philadelphia Mainline neighborhoods, admiring the Christmas light displays of showcase homes. At school we imagined living in one of those wealthier communities.

Today, all these years later, I have a stock portfolio. I no longer eat Scrapple or Spam. But I know spam when I see it. It arrives every morning in tweets that equate the country’s wellbeing with today’s stock market value, and spams illusions of filet mignons to the Acme- and thrift shop-shoppers who still pinch pennies on Spam and Scrapple.

MomMom would have a cow!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, September 5, 2018

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “Spam, Scrapple, and Stocks

  1. I liked creamed chipped beef on toast, too, though I wanted butter or margarine on the toast before the beef — unfortunately my taste remains in the gilding the lily category. And your Mom was even more beautiful than the picture.

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  2. This post made me giggle, Gordan. When I was a kid, my dad used to ask my mom to make Spam. He lovingly referred to it as “Spamusalabamus” and wore a wide smile when he ate it. Full confession: my brother and I could never quite comprehend the allure…. Daddy also liked chipped beef in gravy on toast, a taste developed in the Army, where the dish was referred to as S.O.S. I suspect you’re familiar with the acronym… 😉

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    • Lori, my Dad also liked chipped beef in gravy on toast. Funny thing, huh? It was a cream sauce over the chipped beef, a reddish beef that seemed its own cut of meat. My mother would make it for us all as another kind of treat. I’m not familiar with S.O.S. as a food acronym. Have to look that up. 😁 I learn something new every day!

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